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Need advice on replacing an old steam furnace

hwangnyc Member Posts: 18
Hi everyone,

I have a old gas furnace that I would like to replace before winter comes. Before I start reaching out to contractors, I would like to learn more about the process, the brands / makes / models available, features, etc. I would really appreciate it if someone could share some insights / resources into the process. Thanks very much!




  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,972
    Perhaps the best place to start is with the book "We Got Steam Heat", which is available from the store on this web site. It is a very good introduction.

    Steam heat is excellent, but it does have to be done correctly. The boiler (we don't call it a furnace, but that's OK) is sized according to the system to which it is attached, not -- as in many other systems -- to the heat loss of the building.

    There are a number of makes of steam boilers, but the most important part of replacing a steam boiler -- in my view -- is the skill and knowledge of the installer. Even the best steam boiler will perform poorly if the installation isn't well done.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,736
    What Jamie said. I'll add that if you tell us where you are, we may know someone near you who will do the job correctly. Lots of good Steam Men frequent this board, and many of us post pictures of our work on here too. This will let you see what a good installation looks like.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    Hwangnyc, is this the same boiler you posted about with the water loss? Did you find out where the water is going? Did you find your old boiler having a hole that was the water loser?

    It is a very good idea to correct the water losses before a new boiler is installed.
    Any pictures of your existing installation??
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,354
    From your handle, it looks like you're in NYC. There are several good steam men there. Try the contractor locator above to see some.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • mistercord
    mistercord Member Posts: 19
    Hello there,

    I just found your site and signed up immediately. I learned already that automatic water feeders are a mixed bag. Thanks!

    Turns out I have other questions, too many to list here.

    Since 1981 I have lived in southern Wisconsin in a load-bearing masonry home built in 1925. It has the original low-pressure steam ARCO boiler and radiators with Trane No. 1 controls. The coal/stoker was converted to NG in the 50s. The thing doesn't have a Hartford loop (whatever that is), and the automatic shut-off switch dates from the 50s too. It's a giant tea kettle with a pilot light, burner and blow-off valve, nothing else.

    While I have had it inspected occasionally, I never had a service call in 35 years until last New Year's Day when the paper-thin sight glass failed. This I took as a wake-up call so I'm talking to heating contractors about replacement.

    I assume this is long overdue, but I only have to add a little water once a year and the thing works like a charm.

    Any suggestions? Thanks again.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,354
    You've tagged onto an existing thread. Start a new one and you'll get much more responses.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • mistercord
    mistercord Member Posts: 19
    OK. Thanks.